The Jewish Chronicle
PA move to charge for Covid vaccine certificates sparks anger against level of corruption
THE PALESTINIAN Authority (PA) has sparked a backlash among residents of the West Bank by proposing to charge 20 shekels (£4.30) for a vaccine certificate, even while receiving shipments of the drug for free.
The move was suggested in a directive by Dr Kamal Al-Shakhra, the general manager for the administration of primary care in the ministry of health. A copy of the memo was leaked online.
“The certificates are to be given a week after the person receives their second dose of the vaccine,” the document said, adding: “There is a cost of 20 shekels for each certificate.”
Palestinians took to social media to criticise the move. “Forcing people to pay 20 shekels to obtain a vaccination certificate that was originally brought for free is a disrespectful attempt to put a fee on the vaccine,” one wrote on Facebook, adding: “We need a radical change, otherwise we are finished as a Palestinian people.”
Another posted: “Even the vaccine has become a business! Can we soak the vaccine certificate then drink its water?”
Dr Yasser Bozia, the PA’s DirectorGeneral for Public Health, confirmed to the JC that there would be a charge for the certificate. “Those are our rules,” he said. “Of course we are asking for money.
“If anybody wants the certificate, he has to pay 20 shekel. But anybody who doesn’t want it doesn’t have to get it.”
Last week, the United States announced that it was giving $15 million (£10.9 million) to vulnerable Palestinian communities in the West Bank to help fight the pandemic. And on Monday, the Palestinian Authority (PA) received 100,000 doses of China’s Sinopharm vaccine to broaden the inoculation campaign.
So far, residents of the West Bank have received jabs provided by Israel, Russia, the United Arab Emirates and the global Covax vaccine-sharing initiative.
It is expected that a vaccine certificate will enable the bearer to avoid coronavirus-related restrictions in the future and enjoy greater levels of personal freedom.
The backlash came as ordinary Palestinians have seen their incomes shrink and the economy collapse over the course of the pandemic.
The PA finally began its public coronavirus vaccination campaign on Sunday following months of delays, amid accusations of nepotism and corruption.
According to Health Minister Mai alKaila, priority is to be given to frontline health care workers, the elderly — age 75 and above — and at-risk groups, such as those suffering from cancer. However, the health ministry then admitted that 10 per cent of doses that had been earmarked for medical workers had been diverted to VIPs. These included government ministers, presidential guards, members of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) Executive Committee and the national football team.
Another 200 doses were delivered to the Jordanian royal court after a request from Amman.
The move was met with outrage from Palestinian human rights groups. Last December, a study found that 86 per cent of Palestinians believed that their institutions were corrupt.
86 per cent of Palestinians believe their institutions are corrupt’